Wikipedia:Build content to endure

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Wikipedia is littered with content that, while once great, has since decayed (much like this statue).

Most content on Wikipedia naturally improves over time. However, this is not always the case, and none of us will be around forever to defend the pages we care most about. This essay lists measures that can be taken to help prevent content from degrading over time.

  • Use hidden text comments and edit notices to warn against tempting but undesirable edits. For instance, set specific criteria for lists that might otherwise accrue cruft, or note next to a controversial element that there is consensus to include it.
  • Avoid language likely to become outdated, such as "recently", "currently", "so far", and "soon".
  • Use templates such as {{As of}} and {{Update after}} to mark statements that should be updated in the future. Sometimes, code can be employed to help keep content updated — for instance, when noting the contemporary value of a historical monetary figure, use {{Inflation}} rather than just writing out the conversion for the current year.
  • Transclude duplicate content instead of copying and pasting it. This ensures that updates or improvements to it will be synced with the page.
  • Document templates and other complex pieces of code thoroughly to make them easier to maintain and to revive if they break.
  • Use full citations rather than bare URLs to guard against link rot.
  • Add incoming links, redirects, and categories to make pages (particularly in the project and template spaces) easy to find so that they are less likely to be recreated by someone unaware of them.
  • Protect pagesRequest that pages be protected at an appropriate level to make them as accessible as possible without inviting vandalism.

As a general principle, when building something on Wikipedia, envision it 10 years or even 50 or 100 years in the future. This doesn't mean every system must be entirely maintenance free (which would be impossible), but if maintenance is so complicated or tedious that only you would reasonably do it, it's sure to eventually fail.

Overall, Wikipedia is a long-term endeavor, and contributions that survive will have a far greater impact than those that don't. By following these best practices, you will increase the likelihood that pages will endure and retain their quality into the future.

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